I got a call from my mentor and friend from TNU this week asking if I would help her out and allow a class she was teaching for the Salvation Army to come to Harvest Hands. She asked me to share my story, explain what HH does and talk about Christian community development. All of the people in the class work for the Salvation Army and the way the Salvation Army works is in some ways quite a bit different than the guiding principles of HH and CCDA. I never thought I loved "public speaking" but I realized, especially after today, that when I'm talking about something I am passionate about...I could talk all day. :)
They asked questions after I was done talking. One of the guys asked me something and our conversation basically went like this:
Guy: "So you said when you were sharing your story that people didn't always understand why you wanted to do this. Your parents weren't thrilled you were living in not the safest neighborhood and people didn't get why wanted to do what you do. You went to a good school, had a quality education and have the chance to live differently. You could make more money and live somewhere safer. Do you really feel fulfilled living this way?"
Me: After looking at him for a few seconds not quite sure I heard him right, my answer went something like this, "Yes. I feel fulfilled. I can honestly answer that question with a deep, resounding down into in my soul, YES. I know this is what I'm supposed to be doing and it doesn't matter to me what people think or the fact that I could be doing something different, make more money, or live in a "nicer part of town". God calls us to love our neighbor, serve the least of these, and be part of his Kingdom coming to Earth in the here and now, not later. I am fulfilled because I know I'm part of that. Yes, there are days when it's hard and the brokenness of our kids, teenagers, families and community overwhelms me. I'll question why I don't just quit and do something "easier", but when I think about living that "American dream", having a job I don't really like so I can make more money and live in a big house where I don't know my neighbors...that seems like the most unfulfilling thing I can do."
They all proceeded to stare at me like they weren't quite sure what to do with me. "Do I feel fulfilled?" This question has been jumping around in my head all day. I've never had anyone ask me that before.
I feel fulfilled because I know God has called me to and put a passion deep inside my being to do what I do.
I feel fulfilled because each time I hear one of my teenagers say I love you, they know they're going to hear it in return and know it's true.
I feel fulfilled because each time I see one of our kid's cry they know they're going to be comforted by people that truly care about them.
I feel fulfilled because I have found community.
I feel fulfilled because I have friendships in my life that matter. Sometimes that means you give more than you take, sometimes you take more than you give, my life is full of great people.
I feel fulfilled because I know I am the beloved of a King and that simple fact more than anyone's opinion defines who I am and I have a chance to share that truth with some beautiful girls.
I feel fulfilled because I know my life isn't about me. If I can be used even in the slightest to show God's love to each person I meet, it's worth it.
I feel fulfilled because in the midst of the broken and shitty world we're surrounded by I see, even if just a glimpse, the Kingdom of God shine through in different ways every. single. day.